Bob Carr's Syria stand makes sense

Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor From: The Australian ] June 03, 2013

BOB Carr's suggestion that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad be allowed to stay in office if it facilitates an end to the bloody fighting there is a sharp and sensible departure from the US and European consensus.

The Foreign Minister says a shift in the Western position might be necessary "to help the Russians get him (Assad) to a peace conference".

Carr believes it is no longer realistic to demand Assad's removal from office as a pre-condition to a peace conference.

This analysis reflects the sober realisation that, with Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah support, the Assad regime has been making progress on the battlefield and there is little imminent prospect of its overthrow.

Carr also expresses "serious reservations" about Western nations arming the Syrian opposition.

He says the al-Qa'ida-affiliated al-Nusra group has grown stronger within the Syrian opposition and "there seems little doubt they will get a share of the arms" available.

He also expresses concern about the treatment of Christians and other minorities in the region.

The Foreign Minister is right to make this point and it is a sad commentary about political correctness in much of the West that almost no one raises a voice in defence of the increasingly beleaguered Christians of the Middle East.

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